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States of Mitteleuropa (blue) and the larger cultural sphere (outlined) that in the late 19th century comprised the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland, as well as Congress Poland and the Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire

Mitteleuropa (pronounced ) is one of the German terms for Central Europe.[1] The term has acquired different cultural, political and historical connotations.[2]

There are diverse and contrasting connotations of the concept of Mitteleuropa.[3][4]

On one hand there is the vision of Mitteleuropa as a cosmopolitan multi-national cultural and intellectual ideal, which is also fondly recalled by Habsburg-era nostalgics. On the other hand, there is the Prussian vision of Mitteleuropa as a pan-Germanist state-centric imperium, an idea that was later adopted in a drastically modified form by Nazi geopoliticians.[5][6][7]


  • Conceptual history 1
    • Middle Age migrations 1.1
    • Different visions of Mitteleuropa 1.2
    • The Prussian Mitteleuropa Plan 1.3
    • Other visions of Mitteleuropa 1.4
  • Mitteleuropean culture 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Conceptual history

Middle Age migrations

At the time when the 500-year-long Ostsiedlung process was stopped by the Black Death in the mid-14th century, Germans had settled the "Wendish" Central European areas of Germania Slavica far beyond the Elbe and Saale rivers. They had moved along the Baltic coast from Holstein to Farther Pomerania, up the Oder river to the Moravian Gate, down the Danube into the Kingdom of Hungary and to the Slovene lands of Carniola. From the mouth of the Vistula river and the Prussian region, the Teutonic Knights by force continued the migration up to Estonian Reval (Tallinn). Germans also settled in the mountainous border regions of Bohemia and Moravia and formed a distinct social class of citizens in towns like Prague, Havlíčkův Brod (Deutsch-Brod), Olomouc (Olmütz) and Brno (Brünn). They had moved into the Polish Kraków Voivodeship, the Western Carpathians and Transylvania (Siebenbürgen), introducing the crop rotation practice and German town law.

Different visions of Mitteleuropa

In the first half of the 19th century, ideas of a Central-European federation between the Russian Empire and the West European great powers arose, based on geographical, ethnic and economic considerations.

The term Mitteleuropa was formally introduced by Karl Ludwig von Bruck and Lorenz von Stein, a first theorization of the term attempted in 1848,[8] with the aim of a series interlocking economic confederations.[9] However, plans advocated by the Austrian minister-president, Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg, foundered on the resistance of the German states. After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Prussian-led Unification of Germany under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1871, Austria had to abandon its claim to leadership and thereafter used Mitteleuropa to refer to the lands of Austria-Hungary in the Danube basin. In Austria, the Mitteleuropa concept evolved as an alternative to the German question, equivalent to an amalgamation of the states of the German Confederation and the multiethnic Austrian Empire under the firm leadership of the Habsburg dynasty.

Political and ethnic visions of a Mitteleuropa began to dominate in Germany. After the Revolutions of 1848 liberal theorists like Friedrich List and Heinrich von Gagern, socialists and then later groups like the German National Liberal Party would adopt the idea. However, a distinct Pan-German notion accompanied by the concept of a renewed settler colonialism would become associated with the idea. In the German Empire, the Ostforschung concentrated on the achievements by Ethnic Germans in Central Europe on the basis of Ethnocentrism with significant anti-Slavic, especially anti-Polish notions, as propagated by the Pan-German League. By 1914 and the Septemberprogramm Mitteleuropa, meaning central Europe under the control of Germany, had become a part of Germany hegemonic policy.[10]

The Prussian Mitteleuropa Plan

Alleged map of German plans for a new political order in Central and Eastern Europe after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of February 9, 1918, Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of March 3, 1918 and Treaty of Bucharest of May 7, 1918.
  Germany and its allies
  Areas of Russian parts of Poland and Armenia to be annexed by Germany/Turkey
  Semi-autonomous states under full German control – planned annexation
  New countries – economically and administratively dependent on Germany
  Ukraine – under German economic control
  Planned Tatar Republic – area of German colonization
  Countries politically and economically tied with Germany
  Planned Transcaucasian Republic – politically tied with Germany
  Semi-autonomous Cossack states inside Russia – German sphere of influence

The Mitteleuropa plan was to achieve an economic and cultural hegemony over Central Europe by the German Empire[11][12] and subsequent economic and financial exploitation[13][14] of this region combined with direct annexations,[13] settlement of German colonists, expulsion of non-Germans from annexed areas, and eventual Germanization of puppet states created as a buffer between Germany and Russia. The issue of Central Europe was taken by German thinker Friedrich Naumann in 1915 in his work Mitteleuropa. According to his thought, this part of Europe was to become a politically and economically integrated block subjected to German rule. In his program, Naumann also supported programs of Germanization and Hungarization as well.[15] In his book, Naumann used imperialist rhetoric combined with praises to nature, and imperial condescension towards non-German people, while advising politicians to show some "flexibility" towards non-German languages to achieve "harmony".[11] Naumann wrote that it would stabilize the whole Central-European region.[16] Some parts of the planning included designs on creating a German colony in Crimea and colonization of the Baltic states.[17]

The ruling political elites of Germany accepted the Mitteleuropa plan during World War I while drawing out

  1. ^ LEO Ergebnisse für "Mitteleuropa"
  2. ^ Wendt, Jan "Współpraca regionalna Polski w Europie Środkowej" Centrum Europejskie University of Warsaw, Studia Europejskie, nr 4/1998
  3. ^ Johnson, Lonnie (1996) Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends pp.6-12 quotation:
  4. ^ Bischof et al. (2000) p.558 quotation:
  5. ^ Hann, C. M. and Magocsi, Paul R. (2005 ) Galicia: A Multicultured Land, pp.178-9 quotation:
  6. ^ Eder, Klaus and Spohn, Willfried Collective Memory and European Identity pp.90-1, quotation:
  7. ^ Bischof, Günter and Pelinka, Anton and Stiefel, Dieter (2000) The Marshall Plan in Austria p.552 quotation:
  8. ^ Libardi, Massimo and Orlandi, Fernando (2011)Mitteleuropa, Mito, letteratura, filosofia, p.19
  9. ^ Atkinson, David and Dodds, Klaus (editors) Geopolitical Traditions: Critical Histories of a Century of Geopolitical Thought Routledge (2000) p41
  10. ^ Atkinson, David and Dodds, Klaus (editors) Geopolitical Traditions: Critical Histories of a Century of Geopolitical Thought Routledge (2000) p43-44
  11. ^ a b A history of eastern Europe: crisis and change Robert Bideleux,Ian Jeffries, page 12,Routledge 1998
  12. ^ a b The Challenge of Hegemony: Grand Strategy, Trade, and Domestic Politics Steven E. Lobell, page 52, University of Michigan Press
  13. ^ a b "War and Punishment: The Causes of War Termination and the First World War" Hein Erich Goemans, Princeton University, page 116 Press 2000
  14. ^ The First World War, 1914-1918 Gerd Hardach, page 235 University of California Press 1981
  15. ^ a b "A History of the Habsburg Empire, 1526-1918." Robert Adolf Kann University of California Press 1980
  16. ^ See^ Naumann, Mitteleuropa. Reimer, Berlin 1915
  17. ^ Czesław Madajczyk "Generalna Gubernia w planach hitlerowskich. Studia", Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa, 1961, str. 88 i 89
  18. ^ a b Imanuel Geiss "Tzw. polski pas graniczny 1914-1918". Warszawa 1964
  19. ^ Barry Hayes, Bismarck and Mitteleuropa, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994, p. 16
  20. ^ "War and Punishment: The Causes of War Termination and the First World War" Hein Erich Goemans, page 115, Princeton University Press 2000
  21. ^ "Coalition Warfare: An Uneasy Accord".Roy Arnold Prete, Keith Neilson 1983 Wilfrid Laurier University Press
  22. ^ J. Brechtefeld, Mitteleuropa and German politics. 1848 to the present (London 1996)
  23. ^ (1983) Interview to Claudio Magris, in Dzieduszycki Michele Pagine sparse. Fatti e figure di fine secolo, [2]
  24. ^ a b Johnston, William M. (2006) Österreichische Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte: Gesellschaft und Ideen im Donauraum 1848 bis 1938, p.xxxii
  25. ^ Günter Bischof, Anton Pelinka (eds.) () Austria in the new Europe, p.17 quotation:
  26. ^ Sara B. Young Cultural Memory Studies: An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook p.40
  27. ^ György Konrád (1984) Der Traum von Mitteleuropa
  28. ^ Seán Hanley The New Right in the New Europe: Czech Transformation and Right-wing..., p.51
  29. ^ a b Chamberlain, John (1933) Books of The Times, in the nytimes, October 17, 1933, quotation:


See also

Outside of fiction, eccentric scholars of Old Austria include Leopold Szondi, Eugen Heinrich Schmitt, and Josef Popper-Lynkeus.[24]

Other authors that have been catalogued as of mitteleuropean literature are the Hungarians Karl Kraus (1874–1936), Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929), Peter Altenberg (1859–1919); the Bulgarian Elias Canetti (1905–1994); the German Frank Wedekind (1864–1918); and the Swiss Carl Seelig (1894–1962).

Among the main writers of the literary Mitteleuropa are Joseph Roth (1894–1939), Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) Arnold Zweig (1887–1968) and Lion Feuchtwanger (1884–1958).[29] Roth's novel Radetzky March is a study of the decline and fall of the Austro–Hungarian Empire,[29] via the story of a family’s elevation to the nobility.

According to the Hungarian writer György Konrád, the mitteleuropean spirit is "an aesthetic sensibility that allows for complexity and multilingualism, a strategy that rests on understanding even one's deadly enemy," a spirit that "consist of accepting plurality as a value in and of itself."[26][27] In Prague, in 1984, the journal Střední Evropa (Mitteleurope) was founded, albeit characterized by a Catholic revisionist view nostalgic of the pre-1918 Habsburg Empire.[28] Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert wrote the poem Mitteleuropa, included in his 1992 book Rovigo (Wrocław).

Mitteleuropa is also used in a cultural sense, to denote a fertile region whose thought has brought many fruits, artistic and cultural. It is also sometimes denote with the expression "Habsburg thought and culture."[24] The rich mitteleuropean literary and cultural traditions include Polish philosophy, Czech avantgarde literature, Hungarian social theory and science, Austrian lyric poetry, and the common capacity for irony and linguistic prowess.[25]

Mitteleuropean culture

Mitteleuropean literature of the period between the end of 19th century and WWII, has been the subject of renewed interest, starting in the 1960s. Pioneers in this revival have been Claudio Magris, Roberto Calasso and the Italian publishing house Adelphi.[23]

The term 'Mitteleuropa' never has been merely a geographical term; it is also a political one, much as Europe, East and West, are terms that political scientists employ as synonyms for political ideas or concepts. Traditionally, Mitteleuropa has been that part of Europa between East and West. As profane as this may sound, this is probably the most precise definition of Mitteleuropa available.[22]

While Mitteleuropa describes a geographical location, it also is the word denoting a political concept of a German-dominated and exploited Central European union that was put into motion during the First World War. The historian Jörg Brechtefeld describes 'Mitteleuropa' as the following:

Other visions of Mitteleuropa

[12] plan was viewed as a threat by the British Empire, which concluded it would destroy British continental trade, and, as a consequence, the source of its military power.Mitteleuropa The [21], where guarantees of economic and military domination over Ukraine by Germany were laid out.Treaty of Brest-Litovsk Partial realization of these plans was reflected in the [20] of conquered countries for the material benefit of Germany.exploitation and Central and Eastern Europe could be appeased by German politicians through the economic benefits of territorial annexation, settlement of Germans in working classes with commercial treaties imposed on countries like Poland and Ukraine. It was believed that the German [19]

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